Four Questions After Watching The Ray Rice Video » VSB

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Four Questions After Watching The Ray Rice Video

Ray Rice and Janay Palmer (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


[Admin Note: Around 230pm EST, it was reported that the Baltimore Ravens have cut Ray Rice from the football team.]

I never played double-dutch as a kid, but I have always likened the playground game to mixing it up with my followers and those I follow on Twitter. It’s challenging, especially because as great of a place as Twitter can be for receiving breaking news, it is a pretty bad place to discuss it. So when I was on there this morning and I saw TMZ released more video footage of Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife, Janay Palmer, in an elevator, I just knew my timeline was going to shout over one another with points good and bad.

In the hours since this news has broke, #blacktwitter, #SportsTwitter, and #feministTwitter have converged on the platform, creating a category 5 storm of incomprehension. Ray Rice is the number one trending topic worldwide. Dialogue, at least a healthy one, will not be had, so I’m bringing these questions I have over to you beautiful, smart, reasonable people here at VSB.

That’s right, I have questions, and trust me, some of them may be basic, but they’re not simple. They’re also not being asked for the sake of pushing an agenda. I just want to discuss an issue (domestic violence) in context (Ray Rice, a employee of the NFL and his wife, Janay Palmer). So here are my questions:

To the Ray Rice defenders, what now?
A reiteration of something Damon mentioned in his post earlier today, I want someone to answer this question if you’re still on his side. Seriously, I’m not going to pass judgement on you as a person simply because I disagree with you (and be clear, I vehemently disagree with anyone who is saying Ray Rice isn’t more wrong than wrong can be), but this video doesn’t help anyone who is on team Ray Rice. Also, if this video changed your mind (because seeing her being dragged out of the elevator earlier this year wasn’t enough), why did it change your mind?

If Ray Rice is your son, brother, friend, or teammate, what do you do?
There is this tendency by many to ask people what they would do if Janay Palmer was their mother or sister, but I always think that question isn’t challenging enough since I think it’s fairly easy to say we would all defend the honor of a woman we loved and cared about. The better question is what we would do if we knew someone like Ray Rice? As far as I know, had I been caught on video doing what Ray Rice did, I am sure there would not be one person in my corner, not even my boys, and I couldn’t blame them. I would like to think I know all the men I consider brothers and men in my family to be guys who would never be violent towards their women, but I often wonder if I discovered they were, how would I treat them moving forward?

At what point are we shaming Palmer for deciding to not only partially blame herself for what took place in the elevator but also marrying him shortly afterward?

Before today’s video even surfaced, I was giving the Ravens a side-eye when they tweeted this out back in May:

But keep in mind, Palmer and Rice tied the knot the day before that tweet was sent, the day after Rice was indicted by a grand jury for third-degree aggravated assault charges, so I was also looking at her slightly crazy too.

Now? I just find this whole thing sad to the point where I actually don’t even want to take her to task if she blamed herself or for marrying Rice when she knows what he’s capable of. I personally think the decisions she’s made are her’s to square up with herself, the daughter her and Rice have, and her God. And while I certainly understand why some of us are wondering what possessed her to STAND BY HER ATTACKER’S SIDE, I wonder if we’re going too far with expressing that.

Is Roger Goodell the worst or what?
This one is a challenge especially to the sports historians out there: find me a league commissioner who is worse than Goodell. Seriously. The NFL’s front office (of which he is the boss) is already denying they saw this latest video which, Goodell, you a lie. But assuming they didn’t see it, that doesn’t mean they didn’t know about it. Even after Goodell updated the domestic violence policy to ban second-time offenders from the game for life, I thought he was a joke. Now? I’m not even laughing. The majority of his decisions have made it more difficult for me to be a fan in good consciousness, and even though I will continue to watch this game I enjoy, Goodell has got to go. Right?

Jozen Cummings

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called the Empire Afterparty and he works at Twitter as an editorial associate. He lives in Harlem, graduated from Howard University, and grew up in Seaside, California. He cannot get you a blue check.

  • Medium Meech

    The major thing I took away from that video was the lack of shock/surprise/concern/urgency after he punched her unconscious. You can’t tell me that was his first time hitting her or that she was the only woman he has hit. I’m more concerned about her safety after seeing this. I’m also pretty sure I know who he is going to blame for this happening.

    • Amber

      Yeah I think his reaction was more surprising that the punch. I was also surprised at all of the casino/hotel employees as well. They just stood around staring at a woman on the ground, kudos to that woman who came in at the end to help her up and to console Janay.

  • MR_415

    That nigga Ray Rice crazy.

  • PunchDrunkLove

    Release my edited post, please

  • veryaveragebrotha

    “Also, if this video changed your mind (because seeing her being dragged
    out of the elevator earlier this year wasn’t enough), why did it change
    your mind?”

    I’ll take a stab at this question, because I fully made up my mind, but only after watching this video. The short answer is…..because I’m a lawyer and the presumption of innocence is one of my strongest personal and professional principles.
    The initial video was clear evidence that he was a bad boyfriend, who really didn’t care that much about his girl. However, let’s get this straight. Callously dragging your passed out girlfriend out of an elevator is not abuse. There wasn’t an iota of evidence from that video that domestic abuse had taken place. Anyone who claims otherwise is simply talking out their back side. There wasn’t even any evidence at the time that she was physically hit. For all we knew from the previous video, she could have passed out. Let me repeat that, from that video, there literally was not ONE SINGLE piece of actual evidence that he abused.
    Right off the top of my head, I recall a case I dealt with that was pretty similar (except it was a bathroom rather than an elevator), after further prodding it turned out that she had pulled a switch blade and tried to slice the ninja’s throat. She was the criminal – knocking her out in that case was actually the most restrained action he could take to fully control the situation. It’s amazing just how many times the cliche phrase “it’s not what it looks like” actually ends up being true.

    Now that I’ve seen the video…which was the first solid evidence of domestic abuse, I think Ray Rice should be torched with the quickness. But for people that feeling free to attack my personal character because I chose not condemn someone of a crime without a shred of actual evidence, I’ll remind them of that the next time they’re protesting some black person that has been wrongfully convicted because to the emotionally charged predominantly white jury that didn’t care about the evidence…it looked like he had done it, and that was enough for them.

    • Thank you for putting that out there. I know that there is a tendency to judge without the full facts. Once the full facts were out, I did exactly what you did. I know that people just wanted the man dead off of accusations, but there’s a reason we wait for evidence. Too many people have been locked up because they were on the wrong side of public opinion.

    • Andrea

      I think I am gonna stop reading comments sections on anything related to Ferguson or this. Or the next Ferguson or this. You eerily see all of the SAME comments. In this case the men just sound like white folks. But the parallels are incredible.

      • Like I’ve said on a host of matters, we all have our perspectives where we are the ones connected with the abusers and victimizers. Few of us understand that we have these perspectives. Yes, even a handicapped poor Black transgendered lesbian can be in a spot where she can align with someone who is a horrible monster. If only people had enough sense to figure it out, they could see the humanity in others.

        But I’m not exactly holding my breath.

      • Val

        Same thing happens when the subject is homochexuality.

    • I’m also an attorney who has worked as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. It is interesting that you keep saying there was no evidence of domestic abuse when the case initially broke months ago because there was, in fact, evidence in the form of statements from Ray Rice. You are completely misinformed. The statements reported from Ray Rice at the time was that HE ADMITTED HE HIT Janay in the elevator. His PR take through his attorneys, his statements and Janay’s was to craftily suggest that it was somehow self defense or provoked so that it was wrong but justified. The video absolutely sheds light on that lie. His statements at the time plus the aftermath video made it clear that she was not passed out from intoxication when we first saw this months ago. We already knew he knocked her unconscious because he’d said as much.

      • veryaveragebrotha

        For an attorney your ability to completely gloss over what was actually stated is impressive. I stated that from the initial video, there wasn’t one single piece of evidence that showed abuse. If you’re an attorney as you claim, please indicate to me what about that video, can be submitted as evidence of abuse in a court of law.
        Regarding the statements…c’mon…
        1. There hadn’t been ANY official statements from EITHER of them that even came close to clearly indicating the criminal behavior shown on the most recent video.

        Hearsay and passing statement now constitutes evidence? Please.

        • Your choice to ignore all of the information available to you at the time and act as if you could only use the aftermath video to determine what happened was your choice. That’s not how a fair or informed lawyer, employer or prosecutor should operate.

          – The initial reports from the Atlantic City Police in February was that after reviewing surveillance footage it appeared both parties were involved in a physical altercation. The complaint summons indicated that the both Rice and Palmer struck each other with their hands. The responding officer signed a assault complaint against both. Simple assault charges against Janay were eventually dropped.

          – A witness who saw the altercation at Revel claimed that Rice hit Palmer “like he punched a guy, knocked down and dragged her out of the elevator by his feet” before security arrived.

          – Ray’s attorney, Andrew Alperstein, claimed that Rice’s fiancée had also been arrested in connection with the incident, which he described as a “very minor physical altercation.” Word at the Revel early that Saturday morning was that a woman—presumably the fiancée—had spit on Rice and that in retaliation, he uppercut her, knocking her completely unconscious.

          – On Feb 19, the complaint summons issued to Ray by the State of New Jersey was that he “committed assault by attempting to cause bodily injury to J Palmer specifically by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious at the Revel Casino in violation of N.J.S.A 2C:12-1A.”

          – On Feb 20, Sports Illustrated reported that police had a yet-to-be-released video that showing Ray knocking his fiancee unconscious according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.

          – On May 23, after Janay said she regretted the role she played, CBS Sports reported Janay did not elaborate on the role she played although a Feb Court Summons stated that she tried to hit her husband who then knocked her unconscious.

          – Then there were a number of reports from credible reporters citing people close to the investigation who said that Rice admitted to the NFL that he hit Janay.

          It was clear from minor research and following the story (before forming an opinion on the aftermath video alone) that he was reporting that he hit Janay after she tried to hit or provoke him and that’s how she ended up unconscious. My argument at the time was that EVEN IF SHE HAD hit him, KNOCKING HER UNCONSCIOUS was not a proportional or appropriate response. He had other options to restrain or evade given their difference in size and strength.

          Maybe your issue is that you are not very thorough as an attorney nor do you ensure that you get educated about a situation before forming an opinion. That’s your issue.

          • veryaveragebrotha

            Wow…is Devry now offering law degrees? I mean seriously, I ask you for evidence of abuse available prior to yesterday and all you give me is a long list of unsourced hearsay including witnesses who apparently witnessed an altercation in an elevator they weren’t in. The only thing coming close to being credible being a signed complaint against both parties? There isn’t a DA’s office in these (or any other) united states that would take that list of ‘evidence’ and press charges……not one. Because about 100% of the stuff you’ve stated wouldn’t even be admissible (and with good reason).
            Let me help you out…what happened in that elevator is abuse and the video we saw YESTERDAY is evidence of it.

            If you want to condemn people off hearsay and speculation, do it to your hearts content – but don’t ask me to play that game with you. I have no interest in that.

            • Hmm… well the top tier law school (and in the top 10) I attended plus my 12.5 years of experience has taught me quite a bit grayface. I’m not an attorney in this particular DA office. I don’t have access to all of the evidence they do, I have access to what is reported in the media. I DID NOT say that a DA’s office would take only the information I listed in this post to present in court. That’s you being facetious. And dumb. They aren’t limited to media reports like us, they have the actual evidence, witnesses, statements, videos, etc. HOWEVER, you had PLENTY of information available at or near the time of the original video release that Janay was not passed out because of intoxication or the like, as you claimed was possible — it was because Ray Rice struck her unconscious.

              The fact that he hit her was NOT new news yesterday. You just chose to be ignore the fact that this man knocked this woman unconscious and to arrogantly and tragically demand some more evidence that he wasn’t “just a bad boyfriend” (I believe you said in your initial post). You need to deal with that. Most DV cases don’t have video of any kind to give you this level of “proof” you required.


            • PunchDrunkLove

              “Wow…is Devry now offering law degrees?”

              Hollers…lol I ain’t gon lie, when I read the attorney’s post, I thought, “suuure is a lot of hearsay listed”, but hey, I’m not attorney

              Several days of this now is too much for me. I’m gone back to listening to the Avengers, while I get my work on :)

              • My post was not that those pieces of information would be what was used in court, it was that this was available in the media (that’s our only source if we’re not in the DA office) to explain that Janay was knocked out because Ray knocked her unconscious, NOT because she was falling down drunk or some such nonsense that this anonymous poster claims was why he wasn’t outraged before yesterday. It was clear from minor research and following the story that Ray was reporting that he hit Janay after she tried to hit or provoke him and that’s how she ended up unconscious, not that she drank too much and fell, etc.

                • PunchDrunkLove

                  I gotcha…

            • nillalatte

              “If you want to condemn people off hearsay and speculation”

              People are convicted on less. Coretta is right. Tootles.

    • afronica

      @darkuncle tweeted: “accountability without panopticon is going to be one of the big technical and policy challenges of our age”

      The number of people who needed to see the full video tells me that the age of nanny cams and co-opting web cams are almost over. We are moving into a period where people will need to be recording at all times as a kind of self-defense. Orwell was so prescient.

      Most of the rest of the comments today confirm that people tell you who they are if listen to them.

      • Val

        “Most of the rest of the comments today confirm that people tell you who they are if listen to them.”


    • camilleblu

      AVB – i have to say that when i saw the INITIAL video, what stuck me the most was his demeanor. he seemed (to me) to have zero regard for her well-being. he just kind of dragged her like a rag doll…didn’t even try to wave anyone down for help, and just left her skirt up around her waist with her legs open for the world to see. so, while i completely understand what you are saying about what little we initially saw, i still felt i saw A LOT.

  • Paradigm

    I’m not a Ray Rice defender in this situation but I’ll take the second question..

    “If Ray Rice is your son, brother, friend, or teammate, what do you do?”

    I would strongly reach out to him b/c at this very moment he needs to know that despite how bad of a decision he made there is still forgiveness and he can come out of this situation. The harsh reality is that prior to today, I don’t know if he had truly taken ownership and responsibility for the situation. Sure he came out w/ an apology as expected but what REALLY was his consequence? Who cares about a two-game suspension.. He married Palmer after knocking her out for the first documented time and he WAS still in the league. I’d say that he came out good at that point. But now he has to truly examine who he is and who he wants to be. So I don’t want him to tap out due to today’s developments. And by tap out I mean this is going to weigh on him emotionally and he needs to have stable individuals around him b/c there’s always a brighter day. To sum that up I say I would just pray for the man if that was my son, brother, friend, or teammate.

  • Paradigm


  • Msdebbs

    LMAO….I was’t ready.

  • LivingEuphemism

    “(because seeing her being dragged out of the elevator earlier this year wasn’t enough)”

    I have spent so much energy/time trying to make the point that Ray Rice should have been suspended indefinitely when the dragging was first discovered because they knew then that he had assaulted her. Persistent, and wrong, they keep saying, “but you had to see the video. no one could support him after seeing the video.” Wrong! I did not have to see the latest video because we knew then that he had knocked her out. It’s is truly disturbing to think of those Ray Rice news blurbs with all of the children and charity, then see this dark, psychopathic side of him. I’m from Baltimore and people don’t want to accept that they let their love of football cloud their judgement. Once again, I did not have to see the video because his involvement in this incident is in STARK contrast to the image he consistently portraying. It rubbed me the wrong way immediately.

  • Tsp

    Ray Rice should be jail. As for his now wife…..” 1st time the victim 2nd time the volunteer”

    • Tena

      “1st time the victim 2nd time the volunteer”

      It takes a dv victim around 8 attempts to leave her abuser before the final. And even after a dv victim leaves the two week period that they have left is the most dangerous time for them. I pray you aren’t in any way connected to our law enforcement or justice system.

  • Kim

    1. Never Supported him, I just had no idea what happened in that elevator but that Press Conference had me giving The League the shadiest Side Eye.

    2. If Ray was my teammate I stay the hell away from him but the Ravens are a pretty F*cked up Organization as well as the NFL when it comes to ethic and ect. If he was my brother I’d be afraid, want nothing to do with him and would want him to stay the hell away from me.

    3. I’m fortunate to have never been in an abusive relationship so I just can’t fully comprehend her going forward with the whole matrimony but I’m sympathetic. My heart sunk watching that video and I can’t imagine not finally having a wake up call after having to watch that video cycle over and over. He had no regard for her even as the mother of his child and he was so callous. She could’ve died in that elevator, that scared me. I think that would’ve been enough to break me but all we can do is pray for her.

    4. I’m not appeased with any of it from The League to the Organization and DA, everyone is playing the game of let me cover my ass/get the blood off my hand/are you happy now game. The power of the internet and our voices collectively is just wow. If it wasn’t for the outrage it would’ve been swept under the rug. Rodger Goodell is an incompetent ass.

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